28 films, 3,070 minutes and 19,000+ words later... What do I take away from this little journey through the Collected Works of Arnold Schwarzenneger? By far my biggest surprise: Arnold can act. Seriously. He is a legitimately good actor when he applies himself and gets fully immersed in the role. For those 2 hours you're watching him, he is Conan, The Terminator, a naive genius, or a fiddle-playing Mr Universe hopeful. He is still obviously Arnold while doing those things, but I've found that's not a bad thing and perhaps that's really the most important lesson.
To me, movies are all about the escapism. That doesn't mean they must be brain-dead, I enjoy my share of Oscar-winners very much, but the common factor among every memorable movie-watching experience I've had is the chance to step outside your own life and experience and immerse yourself for a few minutes in something else. Connecting with a movie and enjoying it to the core of your being is an almost transcendent experience. It's something to be sought after and treasured when you find it. I congratulate and envy anyone who finds that in any movie. I've learned it's not often repeatable, and darkness lies down the path at trying too hard, but it's part of what makes movie watching such a compelling experience. There's always a chance at something new, even if it's been done before.
How much more removed from my daily life and experience can I get than announcing my entrance by heaving a vat of Soylent Green down the marble steps of an ongoing orgy, helping my clone cook up some thermite pipe bombs to go rescue my family, or repeatedly running afoul of the law while desperately seeking The Toy on Christmas Eve. Okay, I've allegedly done the first one of those, but the point is... Arnold's movies take you somewhere else. They're completely valid, worthwhile, and to be treasured for that fact alone.
Where to from here? Read his book? Plow through some other actor or director's movies? I loves me my Harrison Ford movies, but they're mostly excellent works and therefore not all that interesting an undertaking. At least with Arnold, I expected the worst and was pleased when I found otherwise. Reading his book through the lens of having just watched his body of work seems an interesting follow-on, so perhaps I'll start there.
Up next - The Last Stand. The first legitimate Arnold movie in nearly 10 years. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, but perhaps there is still fun to be had with Arnold. Nothing would please me more. I'll likely need to watch this one twice before writing about it. I don't want to let critical analysis get in the way of immersion and enjoyment the first time out.